The realm of education has made significant strides over the past few decades. From mandatory education to expanded subject offerings, we've certainly come a long way.
There's one area, however, that's still outdated: how we actually give knowledge to students. Classrooms are generally sticking to the lecture method of teaching that we all know so well. Students sit quietly as a teacher gives them a verbal lesson, the students take notes and memorize them, and eventually the students regurgitate the information learned in a paper or on an exam.
We're discovering, however, that this method isn't always the best way to achieve high-level learning in the classroom. This is where augmented reality technology comes in. Adding graphics, sound, and other digital features to the real world through devices like smart glasses or tablets makes education ripe in potential for better teaching our kids.
Here are three ways augmented reality can shape the future of education:
1. Hands-On Applications
Despite the traditional lecture method of teaching, students actually learn a lot better by doing. In a recent study, 8th graders who were taught about human impact on water quality through a hands-on learning method instead of the traditional textbook and lecture method showed about twice the level of comprehension of the concepts.
This is what makes augmented reality so exciting for use in the classroom. Through augmented reality technology, teachers can develop lessons that revolve around students actually working with the concepts they're trying to learn to better their understanding.
For example, biology is usually taught through lectures, textbooks, and diagrams. With augmented reality technology, however, students can "see" the inner workings of everything from the human body to plant growth through the lenses of a tablet, smartphone, or smart glasses. They could peer at their hands and see a digital image of their bones beneath the surface, or even zoom in to see how blood is traveling through their veins and arteries.
In essence, augmented reality can be the key to adjusting common teaching styles in education, allowing our students to truly understand what they're being taught.
2. Field Trips
Similarly, getting to go out into the world and apply their lessons to real subjects is another great way for students to learn. Unfortunately, due to shifting attitudes regarding this type of learning and resource limitations in many schools, school tours in common field trip locations like art museums and other cultural institutions are declining by as much as 30 percent.
Augmented reality technology can help improve this aspect of contemporary American education--primarily through accessibility. For instance, RYOT brought a group of low-income Los Angeles fifth-graders to the Louvre--kind of. They used augmented reality in a local warehouse to give the kids the experience of visiting this famous museum. Students could aim iPads at empty picture frames hung throughout the space and get to see, close up, some of the great masterpieces they were learning about in class.
This isn't limited to art and history, either--students are also able to "visit" famous scientific artifacts to better understand how they work. For example, Autodesk is 3D scanning the historic Apollo 11 lunar module, which will allow students in classrooms to virtually step into it and experience it for themselves. They can "touch" buttons and levers, examine pieces of equipment, and ultimately learn a lot more about the technology behind the lunar module than they could grasp from reading about it in a textbook.
It's helping the students who really need it; students from rural and high-poverty schools benefit even more than other students from "visiting" museums and other cultural institutions through augmented reality, as they often don't have access to it at home.
Augmented reality doesn't need to be a solitary experience. Augmented reality technology is a great way to increase opportunities for collaborative learning in the classroom.
It's growing increasingly possible to set up multi-user educational experiences to get students to work together to solve problems and learn concepts. Digital devices can connect to each other, showing users the same images on their smart glasses or screens. At that point, the students can collaborate to get through the concepts and help each other.
Since a study showed that 61 percent of cooperative-learning classes achieved higher test scores than traditional lessons based on individual learning, facilitating collaboration can contribute to better educational outcomes nationwide.
The potential of augmented reality in the classroom is practically endless. It's an exciting frontier--and one that I'm excited to see come to fruition.
What are some other ways augmented reality can help with our educational outcomes?